Misophonia – What It Is and How to Treat It

by | Jul 24, 2023 | Uncategorised | 0 comments


Misophonia, a lesser-known condition, can be a highly distressing and challenging experience for those affected. If you find yourself feeling irrationally irritated or enraged by specific sounds like chewing, tapping, or breathing, you might be experiencing misophonia. This blog explores misophonia, its symptoms, potential causes, and, most importantly, how to treat it effectively.

What is Misophonia?

Misophonia, often called “sound sensitivity syndrome,” is a neurological disorder characterised by strong emotional and physical reactions to certain sounds. These sounds, known as “trigger sounds,” can cause intense anxiety, anger, or even panic attacks in individuals with misophonia. The condition typically begins in adolescence and worsens over time if left untreated.

What are the Symptoms of Misophonia?

The symptoms of misophonia can vary from mild to severe and significantly impact an individual’s quality of life. Common trigger sounds include chewing, lip-smacking, pen-clicking, throat clearing, and sniffling. When exposed to these sounds, a person with misophonia may experience a range of reactions, such as:

Irritation and Anger

A strong emotional response leading to feelings of frustration, irritation, or anger.

Anxiety and Tension

Anxious feelings accompanied by tension or discomfort.

Fight or Flight Response

Some individuals may experience an overwhelming fight or flight response, manifesting as panic attacks or a strong urge to escape the situation.

Inability to Concentrate

Trigger sounds can cause difficulty focusing on tasks or conversations.

Avoidance Behaviour

People with misophonia may start avoiding certain social situations to prevent exposure to trigger sounds, which can lead to social isolation.

What are the Causes of Misophonia?

While the exact cause of misophonia remains unclear, researchers believe it is linked to atypical brain activity and increased connectivity between the auditory and limbic systems. The limbic system plays a role in emotions and memory, which might explain why misophonia triggers strong emotional reactions. Some potential contributing factors include:

Genetics

Evidence suggests that misophonia might have a genetic component, as it can sometimes run in families.

Neurological Differences

Differences in brain structure and function may contribute to the development of misophonia.

Auditory Processing Abnormalities

People with misophonia may process certain sounds differently, leading to heightened emotional responses.


How to Treat Misophonia

While misophonia can be challenging, various treatment options can help manage and reduce its impact. It’s essential to remember that what works for one individual may not be as effective for another, so a personalized approach is necessary. Here are some common treatment strategies:

Professional Therapy

Seeking help from a mental health professional experienced in treating misophonia can be beneficial. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy are commonly used to desensitize triggers and develop coping mechanisms.

Sound Therapy

Sound-based treatments, such as white or pink noise machines, can help mask trigger sounds and reduce their impact.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)

Initially developed for tinnitus, TRT can also be effective for misophonia. It aims to retrain the brain’s response to trigger sounds, making them less bothersome over time.

Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Mindfulness and relaxation techniques can help manage emotional responses and reduce stress.

How to Treat Misophonia at Home

In addition to seeking professional help, individuals with misophonia can try self-care strategies at home to alleviate their symptoms. Here are some self-help techniques:

Create a Safe Space

Designate a quiet, calm space where you can retreat when feeling overwhelmed by trigger sounds.

Use Earplugs or Noise-Canceling Headphones

These can be handy in noisy environments or situations with trigger sounds.

Educate Family and Friends

Inform your close ones about misophonia so that they can be understanding and supportive.

Practice Breathing Exercises

Deep breathing exercises can help calm the body’s stress response when triggered.

Identify Triggers

Keep a journal to track trigger sounds and patterns, which can aid in developing effective coping strategies.

Misophonia can be distressing, but its impact can be minimized with the right approach. Understanding what misophonia is, recognizing its symptoms, and addressing its triggers are essential steps in managing this condition. Whether through professional therapy or self-care strategies at home, there is hope for individuals with misophonia to lead fulfilling lives with reduced sound-related distress. Remember, seeking support from loved ones and healthcare professionals is crucial to managing misophonia better.